Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, May 7, 2019

MPA student Calice offers perspective as future energy leader

Kelsy Green, left, and Mikhaila Calice Kelsy Green, left, and Mikhaila Calice

Master of Public Affairs (MPA) candidate Mikhaila Calice shared her perspective on addressing climate change during the Fastest Path to Zero Summit in April at the University of Michigan. Summit participants included high-level clean energy and climate leaders, policymakers, news reporters, and faculty from Michigan’s energy policy and engineering programs.

Professor Todd Allen, chair of Michigan’s Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, invited Calice as a future energy leader. Allen also serves as a senior visiting fellow at Third Way, a national think tank that champions modern center-left ideas and co-sponsored the two-day summit.

Calice spoke with Kelsy Green, a doctoral pre-candidate in the University of Michigan’s Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences Department. Representing “the generation that has to react to climate change challenges,” they offered three main takeaways: the need for interdisciplinary work, radicalism, and a sense of urgency.

“Climate change is an expansive challenge with an even more expansive set of solution options,” they said. “We must not only identify these solutions and their pragmatic feasibility, but work together across disciplines, industries, and levels of experience to most efficiency approach the wide array of solution options.”

As part of their interdisciplinary effort, Calice and Green also advocated for innovative public engagement strategies.

The students’ second takeaway, radicalism, focused on a dedication to ingenuity, creativity, and agitation of the status quo. “We need to employ coordinated, interdisciplinary solutions that will radically alter or halt the momentum of climate change,” they said.

Finally, they acknowledged tension between the idealism of the younger generation and the “so-called pragmatism” of the older generation.

“Those of us here today must have a sense of urgency to effectively and efficiently implement technical, political, and social solutions,” they said. “This meeting is the perfect opportunity to create a new infrastructure that will support the expeditious deployment of interdisciplinary climate change mitigation research.”

Calice, who served as a project assistant with La Follette School Professor Greg Nemet during the 2018-19 academic year, will receive her MPA and a certificate in Energy Analysis and Policy on May 12. She begins her doctoral studies in mass communications through UW–Madison’s Department of Life Sciences Communication this fall. 

“While I anticipate working on many projects associated with the department, I hope to also study how technical and controversial topics regarding the energy transition are communicated to the public and policymakers as well as collaborative approaches to policymaking,” said Calice, who received her bachelor’s degree in political studies and international studies from Randolph-Macon College in Virginia. 

A video of the presentation by Calice and Green is available online (at 2:15 mark).